2017-18 was a terrific year in the piano studio. I feel that both the students and I, their teacher made a lot of progress. We enjoyed the learning process, reached goals, and connected in our community. This post describes a few things that helped to make this year successful.
I have always enjoyed Facebook and Instagram personally, but I haven’t done much with it for the studio. While I have had a studio Facebook account for many years, this year I created a studio Instagram account and have been blown away with the connection it allowed me to have with teachers around the world. I’m not sure why Instagram allows this connection more than Facebook (probably just me), but it has been so inspiring to see what other teachers are doing and what we have in common. It also allowed me to connect with my studio families in a new way, to show what happens in lessons on a weekly basis. You can find me on instagram at icepianostudio. This is one of my favorite recent posts:
Maintaining and writing this blog also helps me as a teacher. I have a place to record events and explain ideas that help me to think through my own teaching philosophy. The process helps me to make intentional choices in my teaching.
I truly believe that the biggest factor of this successful teaching year has been the use of Evernote. This past fall I came across this post by Amy Chaplin, and decided to give Evernote a try. In the past I had tried paper records, Excel records and (ahem) no records. Using Evernote helps me to organize students and teaching materials and to cross-reference in a way that helps me see similarities in students. Grouping students and materials helps me to see more clearly what I can be using with all my students and also gives me more ideas for individual students.
One-minute flashcard challenge – many teachers run this challenge each year. This is how it works in our studio.
Sightreading challenge – a new challenge this year. We used the sightreading cards from Piano Safari and had lots of fun. Read about it here.
Making sticker badges – I gave out sticker badges for both the flashcard and sightreading challenges. The students proudly display them on their studio binders!
Power of the prize – keeping a fully-stocked prize bin is key!
New bookshelves helped me to see and access materials more easily
Wunderkeys games and printables – these resources have been so good for younger students. I can easily access games and worksheets to get students off the bench and to work on specific concepts.
Dozen a Day – more than a year ago I wrote this post about why I love the “Dozen a Day” series. My thoughts in that post still ring true today. Most of my students use these books for their technique work. I love that young students have success with the “Mini Book”, working on technique and solidifying reading skills, and older students learn new concepts and develop strong technique with the higher level books. I definitely encourage every teacher to give them a try!
Magnetic music staff – the clef signs and whole notes are magnetic, so it’s easy to quickly manipulate the board to teach. I used this set from the wonderful Susan Paradis, which also contains sharps and flats.
Photo props from Teach Piano Today – these are so fun! Students love to have their picture taken with these fun props. I often use them to highlight student accomplishments on my Instagram page and also print a hard copy to hang in the studio.
Zelle – I started accepting Zelle and similar banking payments this year. It has been nice to offer another way for families to make payments, and this system has been very good so far!
I have a category in this blog titled “Happies”, where I post monthly studio happenings that made me smile. This has been a boost to me personally because I am constantly on the lookout for happy moments. These are usually the simple, everyday things that occur – maybe a student says something funny, or we appreciate the longer daylight hours. But to me, these are the moments of my life, and I want to acknowledge and embrace the happiness that comes everyday.
I would love to hear your success stories! Feel free to leave a comment!